When smartwatches first started appearing there was a serious lack of designer smartwatches and definitely a focus on substance over style. The emergence of a wristwatch that could tell you that someone was calling, or enable you to reply to a message without having to get your phone out of your pocket was the most important thing. Fortunately, the brands we know and love have caught on and started producing some sleek-looking designs. We take a look at two for women and two for men.
1. Kate Spade Scallop 2
$319 / £239
This offering from Kate Spade is the first of its kind for the brand, with a touchscreen running on Google Wear OS. It has some features that make it a wonderful everyday watch and thanks to the interchangeable straps, you can customise it to match the occasion.
Those features include activity tracking, a heart rate monitor, contactless payments personal goal setting and even access to Google assistant. It’s voice-activated and you can pair it with either Android or Apple smartphones.
It also has the smart features you’d expect, such as notifications for calls, messages and other apps, as well as 4GB of storage for music. Scrolling through the menus is easy and responsive and the face itself offers 390 x 390-pixel resolution.
The battery life is a little disappointing; if you keep your notifications on you can expect to have to put this on charge every night.
- Sleek, feminine design
- Customisable watch straps
- Large screen
- Reasonably rugged given the lightweight design
- Works better with Android
- Disappointing battery life
- No GPS
2. Fossil Women’s Gen 5 smartwatch
$270 / £205
Without a doubt, this is the best smartwatch Fossil has ever produced with Google’s Wear OS at the core.
They’ve put a lot of features into the Gen 5. It holds an altimeter, an ambient light sensor, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, optical heart rate monitor, GPS and NFC. This doesn’t slow it down any; movement through apps and menus is smooth (though not as smooth as an Apple Watch). It’s compatible with Android and iOS, although it’s better with the former. You can download third-party apps like Uber and it has Google assistant for ease of use. It will display notifications like calls, text, email, calendar alerts and various social media.
The women’s version, the Julianna, comes with a stainless steel case in rose gold with a band to match or a blush leather band. There’s also a stainless steel option that comes in black, with a matching mesh band. Bands are 22mm and interchangeable. The overall look is subtle but beautiful, and it’s waterproof to 3m so there’s no fear about wearing it whilst you shower or swim.
- Good battery life
- Subtle design
- Responsive and intuitive
- Speaker quality isn’t great
- No ECG function
3. Skagen Falster 2 Smartwatch
$350 / £239
Another Wear OS watch, the Skagen Falster 2 is incredibly subtle and uber-stylish with its minimalist look. Great for anyone looking for something low-key.
There are four navigation directions to swipe on the screen that give access to Google Assistant, notifications, settings and Google Fit.
It monitors your heart rate which you can track with Google Fit which it monitors automatically every 20 minutes, but as with the GPS function, can drain the battery pretty quickly if left on. It has NFP so Google Pay is a quick option.
The Skagen Falster 2 can join you in water up to 30m deep and the silicon strap is good for swimmers as it’s light and quick drying.
It has 4GB memory for songs and 512MB RAM for speed. The band is 11mm thick and replaceable and the case is 40mm.
The only real downside to this beautiful timepiece is that you’ll need to charge it every day.
- Truly unique minimalist design
- Lots of convenient smart features
- Robust to withstand activity
- Terrible battery life
4. Armani Exchange Connected Smartwatch
$175 / £119
If you find this watch at this price, don’t think you’ve found a bargain by confusing it with the Emporio Armani Connected (typically over £350). While both operate on Wear OS and have some shared features, the design and hardware are different. Both are great looking, but the Armarni Exchange Connected is a smartwatch in disguise – you’d never know it wasn’t a dress watch.
This monster comes with an above-average case size, 48mm compared to the typical 42mm. You can choose between black, blue, gold or silver. The case matches the link strap and it has 22mm lugs. It has a 1.2-inch screen boasting 380 x 390 pixel resolution.
There are no surprises when it comes to features. The Connected offers activity tracking via GPS so you can enjoy an outdoor run without your phone weighing you own. You can go swimming as it’s waterproof to 50m deep. All your activity is captured via the heart rate monitor which talks to Google Fit. There’s also NFP for using Google Pay and it’s Android and iOS compatible.
Anyone who’s used a Wear OS device before will instantly be familiar with how The Connected operates, but the good thing is you can customise it to your style with multiple watch face options. It’ll show you the usual notifications like calls, text, email, social media and other apps.
There’s a fitness tracking element by taking advantage of Google Fit, whether you’re a runner or into yoga, the Connected can offer some valuable insights.
The official line is that the Connected will give you two days of battery life, but the reality is closer to 36 hours.
- Very high-quality look and feel
- Accurate heart rate monitor and GPS
- Contactless payment feature
- Disappointing battery life
- Chunky design, might not be to everyone’s taste
- Performance can sometimes be slow
The introduction of designer brands producing smartwatches has really upped the ante – long gone are the days of heavy, rubber-clad cases with silicon straps. But designer brands come at a premium price, so don’t let a price tag fool you into thinking it comes with all the bells and whistles. Be sure to check out the features!